After some exciting progress with my writing, from publishing my first eBook to getting another article published on Dance Advantage, I took a break on Monday night to watch Week 3 of Dancing with the Stars. It seemed like it was a challenging week for the various celebrities as they started to realize that the show was actually a competition and they actually needed to learn and dance ballroom if they were going to stay. And ballroom dancing is hard!
All of the demons started coming out, and I heard so many things that sounded so familiar! “I’ve been abandoned before, I’m scared, I’m not sexy, I can’t do this, why can’t I get this right?!” People were having trouble connecting with their pro partners and feeling uncomfortable with the close physical contact. Someone even brought up the blurry line that is the pro-am relationship (teacher or friend?). I couldn’t help myself; I had to write about it.
First, to all of the remaining Dancing with the Stars contestants, I would like to say welcome!
Welcome to a world that will make you constantly question yourself but keep you coming back for more. Welcome to a world that will break you down and build you back up. Welcome to a world that will force you to face every doubt you ever had about yourself and every trust issue you ever buried beneath a tough, funny, or charming exterior. Welcome to the most incredible, life-changing world you will ever experience.
I love that it doesn’t matter who you are, whether a tattooed writer/editor living paycheck to paycheck or a celebrity on a live TV show, ballroom affects almost every student in the same way. There is fun and excitement and enthusiasm as you first start learning the steps. And then frustration and anxiety emerge when you delve deeper into technique and performance. The second you sign up for a show or a competition, pressure starts to build. Pressure to do well, pressure to please your teacher, pressure to not look like an idiot in front of an audience.
The key, which I think was mentioned more than once on this week’s DWTS episode, is to let it go. You have to let go of whatever real or imagined pressure you feel. When you let go and trust yourself and your dance partner, the magic of ballroom dancing will appear.
I feel the need to share the link to my article on partnering again: http://www.danceadvantage.net/partnering-in-ballroom/
Physical contact, trust, and communication. Those are the three elements I claim are essential to a successful dance partnership. Nevermind the dancing, those things are hard!
I bet you guys had no idea what you were getting into when you said “sure, I’ll sign on to do that ballroom show!”
I want to tell you, don’t worry. Everything you are feeling is normal. The anxieties and fears are coming out because you care about your dancing now. And that’s a good thing! You’re also having to cram months of lessons into weeks, which means everything is concentrated and intensified.
Your teachers are going to tell you to relax, trust them, they are there for you, you are not alone. Listen to them!
They will also push you past your limits and tell you when you’re wrong and make you do that one stupid step again and again and again. Let them! It is how you will learn and improve and get closer to those 10s.
I can’t help but smile when I hear the same anxieties and fears expressed over and over again from different people. It’s nice to know that it’s not just me, but it also makes me feel warm and fuzzy because I know another life is being changed by this amazing sport/art form that I can’t get enough of.
Yes, DWTS contestants, ballroom is hard. You are working your asses off and you feel like you can never get it perfect or be good enough for the judges, because they always have something to critique. Welcome to the club.
Nevertheless, you should treasure these weeks.
It’s just a sampling, an extremely skewed taste of what it is like to be a pro-am ballroom dancer. You would be in for a very rude surprise if you were to try real pro-am competition. But the hours of practice you put in and the internal battles – that part is real and if you let it, this experience will transform you. You will walk taller, feel stronger and more confident, and you won’t feel so afraid to be vulnerable or to trust another human being.
In the short time you have left, soak up as much as you can. Trust your pro and dance all out. You will never have an experience like this one again. Be grateful for every frustrating, tear-inducing, doubt-filled moment.
I know I am.
Don’t forget to check out other posts from the 31 Day Writing Challenge!
Featured image courtesy of @dancingabc, official Instagram of Dancing with the Stars